A sport book recommendation: The Uses of Literacy (Media, Communication, and Culture in America) by Richard Hoggart

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2auEmR6.
Whatever the multiplicity of its sources, the deep authenticity of Hoggart’s writing is unmistakable. As with the greatest books in this series, The Uses of Literacy focuses on a case study – the particular plight of the poor and underprivileged…
Book description from Google Books:
This pioneering work examines changes in the life and values of the English working class in response to mass media. First published in 1957, it mapped out a new methodology in cultural studies based around interdisciplinarity and a concern with how texts-in this case, mass publications-are stitched into the patterns of lived experience. Mixing personal memoir with social history and cultural critique, The Uses of Literacy anticipates recent interest in modes of cultural analysis that refuse to hide the author behind the mask of objective social scientific technique. In its method and in its rich accumulation of the detail of working-class life, this volume remains useful and absorbing. Hoggart’s analysis achieves much of its power through a careful delineation of the complexities of working-class attitudes and its sensitivity to the physical and environmental facts of working-class life. The people he portrays are neither the sentimentalized victims of a culture of deference nor neo-fascist hooligans. Hoggart sees beyond habits to what habits stand for and sees through statements to what the statements really mean. He thus detects the differing pressures of emotion behind idiomatic phrases and ritualistic observances. Through close observation and an emotional empathy deriving, in part, from his own working-class background, Hoggart defines a fairly homogeneous and representative group of working-class people. Against this background may be seen how the various appeals of mass publications and other artifacts of popular culture connect with traditional and commonly accepted attitudes, how they are altering those attitudes, and how they are meeting resistance. Hoggart argues that the appeals made by mass publicists-more insistent, effective, and pervasive than in the past-are moving toward the creation of an undifferentiated mass culture and that the remnants of an authentic urban culture are being destroyed. In his introduction to this new edition, Andrew Goodwin, professor of broadcast communications arts at San Francisco State University, defines Hoggart’s place among contending schools of English cultural criticism and points out the prescience of his analysis for developments in England over the past thirty years. He notes as well the fruitful links to be made between Hoggart’s method and findings and aspects of popular culture in the United States.
The book is rated 3.88/5 at goodreads.com, from 212 ratings. See 19 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2atB6lz.
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A romance book recommendation: Exit West: A Novel by Mohsin Hamid

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2xueaS4.
It’s a breathtaking novel by one of the world’s most fascinating young writers, and it arrives at an urgent time.
Book description from Google Books:
Longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize “It was as if Hamid knew what was going to happen to America and the world, and gave us a road map to our future… At once terrifying and … oddly hopeful.” -Ayelet Waldman, The New York Times Book Review “Moving, audacious, and indelibly human.” -Entertainment Weekly, “A” rating “A breathtaking novel…[that] arrives at an urgent time.” -NPR.org As featured in the Skimm, on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Fresh Air, PBS Newshour, the cover of the New York Times Book Review, and more, an astonishingly visionary love story that imagines the forces that drive ordinary people from their homes into the uncertain embrace of new lands. In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet–sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors–doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . . Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.
The book is rated 3.82/5 at goodreads.com, from 20774 ratings. See 3489 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2xtT1Y1.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2wMkn89.

A nature book recommendation: You Belong to Me by Mamoru Suzuki

A critic review (source Dear Author) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2uLhkwc.
The illustrations are all as lovely and simple as the cover and I think even young children would easily grasp and understand them. The universal message here is of acceptance and total love, whenever or wherever.
Book description from Google Books:
The simple text of love, caring and protection is accompanied by adorable illustrations of animals and dinosaurs that hug, help, and protect a human child. The comforting text is ideal for a soothing bedtime story. This beautiful book is a perfect gift for parents with a newborn baby.
The book is rated 3.59/5 at goodreads.com, from 58 ratings. See 38 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2uLrnRP.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2utrUN8.

A self-help book recommendation: The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking

A critic review (source Financial Times) can be read at: http://on.ft.com/2mVCZPw.
The thickly bound format is ideally read in bed. This is just the kind of book to shut out the world with a sense of Scandinavian comfort.
Book description from Google Books:
The Sunday Times bestseller The New York Times bestseller The Danish word hygge is one of those beautiful words that doesn’t directly translate into English, but it more or less means comfort, warmth or togetherness. Hygge is the feeling you get when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, in warm knitted socks, in front of the fire, when it is dark, cold and stormy outside. It that feeling when you are sharing good, comfort food with your closest friends, by candle light and exchanging easy conversation. It is those cold, crisp blue sky mornings when the light through your window is just right. Denmark is the happiest nation in the world and Meik puts this largely down to them living the hygge way. They focus on the small things that really matter, spend more quality time with friends and family and enjoy the good things in life. The Little Book of Hygge will give you practical steps and tips to become more hygge: how to pick the right lighting, organise a dinner party and even how to dress hygge, all backed up by Meik’s years’ of research at the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. This year live more like a Dane, embrace hygge and become happier.
The book is rated 3.72/5 at goodreads.com, from 14216 ratings. See 1660 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2mKHIa1.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2s6nyGu.

A children book recommendation: When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2ux6j6w.
Like “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” and “Starry River of the Sky” before it, “When the Sea Turned to Silver” is a classic quest novel…The first book in the series was a Newbery Honor winner. This last one is a National Book Award finalist.
Book description from Google Books:
A New York Times Bestseller A National Book Award FinalistAn IndieBound BestsellerThis breathtaking, full-color illustrated fantasy is inspired by Chinese folklore, and is a companion to the Newbery Honor winner Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Pinmei’s gentle, loving grandmother always has the most exciting tales for her granddaughter and the other villagers. However, the peace is shattered one night when soldiers of the Emperor arrive and kidnap the storyteller.Everyone knows that the Emperor wants something called the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. Determined to have her grandmother returned, Pinmei embarks on a journey to find the Luminous Stone alongside her friend Yishan, a mysterious boy who seems to have his own secrets to hide. Together, the two must face obstacles usually found only in legends to find the Luminous Stone and save Pinmei’s grandmother–before it’s too late.A fast-paced adventure that is extraordinarily written and beautifully illustrated, When the Sea Turned to Silver is a masterpiece companion novel to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky.
The book is rated 4.33/5 at goodreads.com, from 1442 ratings. See 354 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2uOJFS5.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2uwnc0W.

A fiction book recommendation: Fever Dream: A Novel by Samanta Schweblin

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2wHwiE8.
The slow creeping menace of her fear, soaked in superstition and local folklore – transforms into the all too real danger posed by the toxic pesticides leaching into the water and the soil from the surrounding soy fields. Masterfully, McDowell captures every nauseating drop of Schweblin’s increasingly frantic text. Truly terrifying.
Book description from Google Books:
“Genius.” –Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker “Samanta Schweblin’s electric story reads like a Fever Dream.” –Vanity Fair Shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize! Experience the blazing, surreal sensation of a fever dream… A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He’s not her child. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family.         Fever Dream is a nightmare come to life, a ghost story for the real world, a love story and a cautionary tale. One of the freshest new voices to come out of the Spanish language and translated into English for the first time, Samanta Schweblin creates an aura of strange psychological menace and otherworldly reality in this absorbing, unsettling, taut novel.
The book is rated 3.72/5 at goodreads.com, from 3772 ratings. See 792 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2xnZNP8.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2xoeLof.

An arts book recommendation: Testimony by Robbie Robertson

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2lAgql7.
Mr. Robertson, in “Testimony,” occasionally leans too heavily on mythopoeticism. But just as often his writing is wonderfully perceptive.
Book description from amazon.com:
The New York Times BestsellerOn the 40th anniversary of The Band’s legendary The Last Waltz concert, Robbie Robertson finally tells his own spellbinding story of the band that changed music history, his extraordinary personal journey, and his creative friendships with some of the greatest artists of the last half-century.      Robbie Robertson’s singular contributions to popular music have made him one of the most beloved songwriters and guitarists of his time. With songs like “The Weight,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and “Up on Cripple Creek,” he and his partners in The Band fashioned a music that has endured for decades, influencing countless musicians.      In this captivating memoir, written over five years of reflection, Robbie Robertson employs his unique storyteller’s voice to weave together the journey that led him to some of the most pivotal events in music history. He recounts the adventures of his half-Jewish, half-Mohawk upbringing on the Six Nations Indian Reserve and on the gritty streets of Toronto; his odyssey at sixteen to the Mississippi Delta, the fountainhead of American music; the wild early years on the road with rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks; his unexpected ties to the Cosa Nostra underworld; the gripping trial-by-fire “going electric” with Bob Dylan on his 1966 world tour, and their ensuing celebrated collaborations; the formation of the Band and the forging of their unique sound,  culminating with history’s most famous farewell concert, brought to life for all time in Martin Scorsese’s great movie The Last Waltz.       This is the story of a time and place–the moment when rock ‘n’ roll became life, when legends like Buddy Holly and Bo Diddley criss-crossed the circuit of clubs and roadhouses from Texas to Toronto, when The Beatles, Hendrix, The Stones, and Warhol moved through the same streets and hotel rooms. It’s the story of exciting change as the world tumbled through the ’60s and early 70’s, and a generation came of age, built on music, love and freedom. Above all, it’s the moving story of the profound friendship between five young men who together created a new kind of popular music.     Testimony is Robbie Robertson’s story, lyrical and true, as only he could tell it.
The book is rated 4.13/5 at goodreads.com, from 1208 ratings. See 237 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2l1aXka.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2tskZ5n.